Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ted Berrigan

[The Jim Carroll Website]


Sleep half sleep half silence and with reasons
For you I starred in the movie
Made on the site
Of Benedict Arnold’s triumph, Ticonderoga, and
I shall increase from this
As I am a cowboy and you imaginary
Ripeness begins corrupting every tree
Each strong morning          A man signs a shovel
And so he digs        It hurts          and so
We get our feet wet in air           we love our lineage
Ourselves        Music, salve, pills, kleenex, lunch
And the promise never to truckle         A man
Breaks his arm and so he sleeps      he digs
In sleep half silence and with reason

[do you hear Heaney? who wrote which poem first? did either know the other?]

Monday, May 26, 2014

Jules Laforgue

Jules Laforgue [Caponnetto-Poesiaperta]

David Arkell's ludicrously ill-informed summation of Jules Laforgue's invention of vers libre from Arkell's informative but mediocre Looking for Laforgue: an informal biography:

Laforgue’s vers libre had emerged in a way that was natural, gradual and inevitable. It came directly from his own previous poetry and from nowhere else. So desperate was he to burst out of his formal strait-jacket that certain pages of the Complaintes were already vers libre in all but name (for example, the last fifteen lines of the ‘Complainte des formalités nuptiales’). Then again there are highly wrought passages of prose in the Moralités which, given a nudge, also break up into vers libre (as we have seen in parts of ‘Hamlet’). But vers libre, as evolved by Laforgue, was something quite personal. It was to be followed very closely — in a spirit of homage — by T. S. Eliot. But none of Laforgue’s contemporaries produced anything comparable. The two so-called vers libre poems by Rimbaud are irrelevant here, as is the entire output of Whitman, not to mention the Kahns and Krysinskas. Neither Whitman nor Rimbaud used rhyme in their free verse, whereas with Laforgue it remains an important element. The essence of Laforgue’s vers libre is that it does not abandon the best of traditional poetry. With great skill it preserves all that is worth saving. Without ever rejecting exact rhymes, he adds the subtleties of internal rhymes and half-rhymes. He never spurns an old quatrain or couplet or rolling alexandrine if it can do something for the poem. Above all he includes wit and keeps out rhetoric. It was a form of vers libre that even Eliot in the end unfortunately rejected, though ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ and ‘Portrait of a Lady’ were in a sense its apotheosis in English.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Charles Tomlinson

Charles Tomlinson [PennSound]


Swans. I watch them
come unsteadying
the dusty, green
and curving arm
of water. Sinuously
both the live
bird and the bird
the water bends
into a white and wandering
reflection of itself,
go by in grace
a world of objects.
Symmetrically punched
now empty rivet-
holes betray
a sleeper fence:
below its raggedness
the waters darken
and above it rear
the saw-toothed houses
which the swinging
of the water makes
scarcely less regular
in repetition. Swans
are backed by these, as
these are by
a sky of silhouettes,
all black and almost
all, indefinite.
A whitish smoke
in drifting diagonals
accents, divides
the predominance of street
and chimney lines,
where all is either
mathematically supine
or vertical, except
the pyramids of slag.
And, there, unseen
among such angularities —
a church, a black
freestanding witness
that a space of graves
invisibly is also
there. Only
its clock identifies
the tower between
the accompaniment of stacks
where everything
repeats itself —
the slag, the streets
and water that repeats
them all again
and spreads them rippling
out beneath
the eye of the discriminating
swans that seek
for something else
and the blank brink
concludes them without conclusion.

The Fox Gallery

A long house —
the fox gallery you called
its upper storey, because
you could look down to see
(and did) the way a fox would
cross the field beyond
and you could follow out, window
to window, the fox's way
the whole length of the meadow
parallel with the restraining line
of wall and pane, or as far
as that could follow the sense of all
those windings. Do you remember
the morning I woke you with the cry
Fox fox and the animal
came on — not from side
to side, but straight
at the house and we craned
to see more and more, the most
we could of it and then
watched it sheer off deterred
by habitation, and saw
how utterly the two worlds were
disparate, as that perfect
ideogram for agility
and liquefaction flowed
away from us rhythmical
and flickering and
that flare was final.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Blaise Cendrars

Blaise Cendrars [Ike]

It was only gradually, and after a long experience of driving, little by little as cars were perfected and roads improved, and one could at last travel at speed, pure speed, that I realized I was insensibly stripping myself bare of everything by forging ahead into the unknown, for to what can one compare speed if not to the slow thrust of thought, which progresses on a metaphysical plane, penetrating, isolating, analysing, dissecting everything, reducing the world to a little pile of aerodynamized ashes (the corners worn away by the wind of the mind!) and magically reconstructing the universe by a fulgurating formula which claps between inverted commas (or the two points between which a record is broken) this illumination which restores life: ‘All the world’s my stage’. . . .

here I only want to pencil in the portrait of Manolo Secca. He is a saint. On my way down, I only passed by, stopping long enough to fill up at the pump; on the return journey, I stayed with him for a week, up to my neck in a barrel of paraffin to get rid of the vermin: lice, jiggers, eggs and larvae that cling to you when you come out of the bush, the hinterland, the swamps and the oceans of grass, and make your skin itch; then I filled up the tank and set off again. . . .

Manolo Secca is taciturn and gives nothing away. All day long, throughout the years and years and years that he has been there, at the frontier of the imaginable world, a desert-like zone that took me two weeks to cross by car, he carves statues out of sections of tree-trunk, which he cuts down himself, black statues and white statues, according to the wood he has chosen, cajù and Brazilian rosewood, life-size figures in small cars, so small that each personage has his own car. He works in a dozen studios at once, spreading out in a circle around the petrol pump, and, when I was staying with him, I counted exactly three hundred and eight figures, some of them finished and others barely outlined or rough-hewn. . . . The curious thing was that all these ridiculous little cars were saloons and the figures were standing on the roofs. Manolo Secca was so amazed by my open car, a grand tourisme tourer, that he took the measurements, promising to carve my statue standing in my life-size car and to place it in front of the petrol pump. ‘You have opened my eyes,’ he mumbled.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ki no Tsurayuki

Ki no Tsurayuki [Wikipedia]

tanka from Ki no Tsurayuki's The Tosa Diary, A.D. 935, tr. William N. Porter, 1912:

Though upon the shore
Wind-blown waves break into foam
White like flowers in bloom,
Neither nightingales nor spring
Knew these flowers were blossoming.

While I watch the shore
From the swiftly moving ship,
Do the pine trees guess,
That the hills on which they grow
Seem to move along also?

Fast my teardrops fall,
But to twist a silken thread
Surely would be vain;
Who could thread up pearls so frail?
All my skill wound not avail.

Suminoye’s pines,
As I watch them, seem to be
Younger far than I;
I shall vanish from the scene,
But the pines are evergreen.

If the cherry trees
Nevermore burst forth in bloom,
Twould be better far;
For the saddest time of all
Is the spring, when petals fall.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Amy Catanzano

Amy Catanzano [YouTube]

from Amy Catanzano's iEpiphany:


Like flowers taking flight, migration
is always a maiden voyage.

I equip myself with a bionic device for dreaming
through great distances.

You speak in filigree biology.

Tracking the sun across the sky, other things
trade wings, lift off.


what do you call us now that we are flying?

how should we hope to find our way?

what are our ideal conditions for flight?

what about the stem-cell of the document?

can you move closer into view?

how do you carry your ideas home?

what is the purpose of global positioning?

do you ever construct veils in flight?

what is the best way to travel through a wake?

how do you approach magical ships?

how do you distinguish ships from the sea?

when do you swap your wings to swim?

how do you respond to coral reefs?

when do you climb up toward the sky?

what can you see from the satellite?

at what point do you run out of air?

do you consider re-entry a political act?

where do you head first after getting back?

what do you distribute as you fly?

are you making a permanent move?

how do you display your souvenirs?

what do you exchange for speeds of light?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

e e cummings

e e cummings [We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie]

Chansons Innocentes [excerpt]


in Just-
spring          when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles          far          and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far          and          wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and



balloonMan          whistles

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Emily Abendroth

Emily Abendroth [Ahsahta]

from Emily Abendroth’s ]Exclosures[:

We were bred to believe that even trying to make our own lives worth occupying
was the very height of rudeness or imprudence

We were minced into pieces and then recast as the involuntary navigators of an unworkably
narrow map which arrived in our laps under the guise of an etiquette manual . . .

Having reached the limits of recuperation
Having grated harshly against the question of what it was she wanted to recupe
Having first cooped herself up within the miniscule range of choices provided
and then belabored those same joists endlessly, painfully, but without extension

                                                      The person tried earnestly now to ask herself:

Am I in my own life instigating punishment to myself and to those around me,
            rather than seeking rectification for our dynamics or solutions to our confusions?
Am I in my own life delegating away my very livelihood to the state? Am I fated to do so?

Are these the dynamics that if undone could undo prisons?      Could undo derision?
                                                                                              Could undo imperialism?

                            This obscene tension of scale — which the person variously tried to inhale
                            or paled in the face of — was everywhere in the scenes around her.

                            She felt, if only blurrily, the necessity to boil it down, without however
                            making too smooth an oil of it. She felt like, “Shit, what I need to do
                            is to evolve my paranoias, not to dissolve them.” . . .

TESSA: What are the consequences of silence?

To which a single hour’s version of oneself replies:

For me, one of the deepest consequences of silence is how shockingly quickly it achieves the status of involuntary muscle memory. A state wherein, having strongly asserted its unspeakability more than once, it thereafter tends to repeat itself in the form of a habit that unconsciously demands the constant re-exertion of its tactics. We each harbor so many constructed silences inside us whose original ideological impulse (if there ever was one other than fear or self-censorship/self-loathing) we can no longer identify and, more often than not, now openly reject, yet still can’t step out of as an ingrained part of the fabric of our very tissues. A belligerent cell memory, a retreat into instinct, an embodied cause of permanent self-sabotage. These circuit system impulses are the unshed offspring of deeply sown precarities or wells of shame or interior doubt subsequently masqueraded as if stalwart impermeabilities (i.e. forgeries of strength). A series of successive “don’t touch” signs affixed to the very organs. Performing in their operations not unlike a “Danger: Do Not enter” label which can at best safely keep others from wreckage and/or from falling in, but which leaves the area in question completely broken, a barely taped-off hazard zone.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Salvador Dalí

Throughout my life it has in fact been very difficult for me to get used to the disconcerting and flabbergasting "normality" of the beings who surround me and who people the world. I always say to myself, "Nothing of what might happen ever happens!" I cannot understand why human beings should be so little individualized, why they should behave with such great collective uniformity. Take such a simple thing as amusing oneself by derailing trains! Think of the thousands of kilometres of railroad tracks that cover the earth, in Europe, America and Asia! And what a negligible percentage of those who have a passion for derailing trains ever put it into practice, as compared to the number who have a passion for traveling! When the train wrecker Marouchka was caught in Hungary this was regarded as a sensational and unique event.

I cannot understand why man should be capable of so little fantasy. I cannot understand why bus drivers should not have a desire once in a while to crash into a five-and-ten-cent store window and catch a few toys on the fly for their wives, and amuse the children who happened to be around.

I do not understand, I cannot understand why toilet manufacturers do not put concealed bombs in the flushing compartment of their products which would burst the moment certain politicians pulled the chain.

I cannot understand why bath-tubs are always made in approximately the same shape; why no one invents taxi-cabs more expensive than the others fitted inside with a device for making artificial rain which would oblige the passenger to wear his rain coat when he got in while the weather was fine and sunny outside.

I do not understand why, when I ask for a grilled lobster in a restaurant, I am never served a cooked telephone; I do not understand why champagne is always chilled and why on the other hand telephones, which are habitually so frightfully warm and disagreeably sticky to the touch, are not also put in silver buckets with crushed ice around them.

Telephone frappé, mint-colored telephone, aphrodisiac telephone, lobster-telephone, telephone sheathed in sable for the boudoirs of sirens with fingernails protected with ermine, Edgar Allan Poe telephones with a dead rat concealed within, Boecklin telephones installed inside a cypress tree (and with an allegory of death in inlayed silver on their backs), telephones on the leash which would walk about, screwed to the back of a living turtle . . . telephones . . . telephones . . . telephones . . .

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Richard Powers

Richard Powers [LiPo Ching]

from Richard Powers's Orfeo:

The books on Els's shelves did tell a secret history, but one beyond any government's ability to control. Once he discovered the suppressed evidence, all the standard accounts of human affairs turned comical and self-serving. Trade, technology, nations, migrations, industry: the whole drama was really being orchestrated by Earth's five nonillion mutating microbes.

A year of reading, and the scales fell from Els's eyes. Bacteria decided wars, spurred development, and killed off empires. They determined who ate and who starved, who got rich and who sank into disease-ridden squalor. The mouth of any ten-year-old child housed twice as many bugs as there were people on the planet. Every human body depended on ten times more bacterial cells than human cells, and one hundred times more bacterial genes than human ones. Microbes orchestrated the expression of human DNA and regulated human metabolism. They were the ecosystem that we just lived in. We might go dancing, but they called the tune.

A short course in life at its true scale, and Els saw: Humanity would lose its war of purity against infection. The race now bunkered down behind the barricades, surrounded by illegals and sleeper cells of every imaginable strain. For two centuries, humans had dreamed of a germ-free world, and for a few years, people even deluded themselves into thinking that science had beaten the invaders. Now contagion was at the gates, the return of the repressed. Multiple resistant toxic strains were rising up like angry colonial subjects to swamp the imperial outposts. And in a way that Els could not quite dope out, the two nightmares infecting the panicked present — germs and jihadists — had somehow found their overlap in him.

None of the sites reporting on Peter Els's raided library mentioned those other books in his possession — battle manuals that agitated for all-out assault on the general public over the last hundred years. Boulez's Orientations. Schoenberg's Harmonielehre. Messiaen's Technique de mon langage musical. That war had ended long ago, and its struggles were of no consequence to any but the dead. When the body was under attack by invisible agents from every direction, why worry about a thing as vaporous as the soul. . . .

He wants to tell her: Hold on to what you know right now. Let no one persuade you of a single thing. Study your hunger and how to feed it. Trust in whatever sounds twist your viscera. Write in the cadences of first love, of second chances, of air raids, of outrage, of the hideous and the hilarious, of headlong acceptance or curt refusal. Make the bitter music of bumdom, the sad shanties of landlessness, cool at the equator and fluid at the pole. Set the sounds that angels make after an all-night orgy. Whatever lengthens the day, whatever gets you through the night. Make the music that you need, for need will be over, soon enough. Let your progressions predict time's end and recollect the dead as if they're all still here. Because they are.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Edith Södergran

Edith Södergran [Svenska Litteratursällskapet i Finland]

Violet Twilights

Violet twilights I carry within me from my ancient past,
naked virgins playing with galloping centaurs . . .
Yellow sunshine days with bright glances,
only sunbeams pay proper homage to a tender female body . . .
No man has yet arrived, has ever been, will ever be . . .
A man is a false mirror that the sun’s daughter hurls against the cliffs in rage,
a man is a lie, incomprehensible to pure children,
a man is a rotten fruit rejected by proud lips.

Beautiful sisters, come high up to the strongest rocks,
we are all fighting women, heroines, horsewomen,
eyes of innocence, brows of heaven, rosy faces,
heavy breakers and soaring birds,
we are the least expected and the darkest red,
tigerspots, taut strings, fearless stars.

We Women

We women, we are so close to the brown earth.
We ask the cuckoo what he expects of spring,
we embrace the rugged fir tree,
we look in the sunset for signs & counsel.
Once I loved a man, he believed in nothing . . .
He came on a cold day with empty eyes,
he left on a heavy day with lost memories on his brow.
If my child does not live, it is his . . .

Violetta Skymningar

Violetta skymningar bär jag i mig ur min urtid,
nakna jungfrur lekande med galopperande centaurer . . .
Gula solskensdagar med granna blickar,
endast solstrålar hylla värdigt en ömsint kvinnokropp . . .
Mannen har icke kommit, har aldrig varit, skall aldrig bli . . .
Mannen är en falsk spegel den solens dotter vredgad kastar mot klippväggen,
mannen är en lögn, den vita barn ej förstå,
mannen är en skämd frukt den stolta läppar försmå.

Sköna systrar, kommen högt upp på de starkaste klipporna,
vi äro alla krigarinnor, hjältinnor, ryttarinnor,
oskuldsögon, himmelspannor, rosenlarver,
tunga bränningar och förflugna fåglar,
vi äro de minst väntade och de djupast röda,
tigerfläckar, spända strängar, stjärnor utan svindel.

Vi Kvinnor

Vi kvinnor, vi äro så nära den bruna jorden.
Vi fråga göken, vad han väntar av våren,
vi slå våra armar kring den kala furan,
vi forska i solnedgången efter tecken och råd.
Jag älskade en gång en man, han trodde på ingenting . . .
Han kom en kall dag med tomma ögon,
han gick en tung dag med glömska över pannan.
Om mitt barn icke lever, är det hans . . .

Ezra Pound

Canto 76

In fact a small rain storm . . .
as it were a mouse, out of cloud’s mountain

no cloud, but the crystal body
the tangent formed in the hand’s cup
as live wind in the beech grove
as strong air amid cypress

nothing matters but the quality
of the affection —

Lay in soft grass by the cliff’s edge
with the sea 30 metres below this
and at hand’s span, at cubit’s reach moving,
the crystalline, as inverse of water,
clear over rock-bed

Her bed-posts are of sapphire
for this stone giveth sleep.

Ezra Pound, 1971 [Franz Larese]